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The Great Diablo III Error 37 & Review Debate – Who’s Right & Who’s Wrong?

If I can't play it, should it get a good review score?

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The Great Diablo III Error 37 & Review Debate – Who’s Right & Who’s Wrong?
[ Gaming]

Let me preface this article by stating, I haven’t played Diablo III, beyond the beta events Blizzard offered to players before its release date. I came away rather unimpressed during these events; but more on that later. Therefore, I can provide little insight into the game itself. However, after seeing the events from the past few days unfold, I can provide some insight into how Diablo III has been received from critics, journalists, players, haters, the insane, and fanboys.

It all started at the stroke of midnight, when thousands of gamers shouted “Log-in, finally, after 12 years!” and Blizzard whispered, “No…Error 37″

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a game receive so much vitriol like Diablo III has taken in the past few days. The video game world has seen its fair share of unadulterated hate, with the great Gamespot 8.8 Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess review fiasco of 2006. Also, when EA bought the exclusive third party game rights for the NFL, which led to 2K swallowing up the MLB (the author admits to getting caught up in this one as a MVP Baseball fanboy, and swore to never play a 2K sports game again…NBA 2K12 is now one of his most played games…)

Diablo III has really put the other hateful video game topics to shame; in just three days it has spawned a 3.8 Metacritic user review score (with nearly 3,000 reviews), become an internet meme, and complaints of the game being too short as many have already beat it.

Most of the hate is coming from players themselves, who have complaints even beyond the log-in errors. The problem with a lot of this hate is that so much of it sounds like the ramblings of an insane person, muting the valid concerns players have raised since the game’s launch. What should be thoughtful, constructive dialogue about a game’s problems, turns into this (it should be noted that the video is supposed to be humorous, but captures the essence of how many have responded to Diablo III)…

Which then leads to people not taking the concerns seriously, and instead makes fun of the situation…

This seething hatred also leads to people who will defend the game, stating how players should look over the problem. Yes, looking over the fact a person spent $59.99 or more on a game which has a single player mode, but can’t be played due to a structure implemented by Blizzard, which they couldn’t handle on the most important of days – release day.

Video game journalists are really caught in the crosshairs in a situation like this as well. Who do they side with? The possessed fans, or the developer who is to blame for the problem. The divide is really split, perfectly illustrated by William Usher of Gaming Blend, who I happen to agree with. Not to mention the fact that so many of these sites are reliant on video game advertising, and Blizzard/Activision is the client with the most money.

A playthrough conquered in 5 hours, a cash-shop auction house, no off-line single player, server problems, dumbing down of gameplay systems…and you still gave it positive scores?

Looking past the server problems specifically, something else of interest has taken place since the game’s release, site reviews. I stated previously that I haven’t played Diablo III since release, but did play in the beta events. I thought the game was pretty unimpressive, but I must admit to never being a huge Diablo fan. I would play with friends from time-to-time as a time waster in college, but that’s about it (should be read as “Huge Baldurs Gate fanboy”).

I found this user review interesting, and among the ALL CAPS SHOUTING REVIEWS, to be of sound structure, while completely blasting the game:

It’s Spore all over again. The game isn’t really bad, it gets good reviews by critics, but there’s something so terribly wrong with it. Let me start out by stating how shocked I am that this game has received universally positive reviews, many stating that it has improved upon its predecessor.

Have any of these critics even played Diablo 2? This game eliminates much of what made its predecessor great. Here’s a list of things that displease me: -No more choice when leveling your character. Everything unlocks automatically -You can’t distribute skill points -Items have, for the most part, the same size. You can carry many more things than you could in Diablo 2. Some people might like this better, but it makes things feel less valuable. -No more scrolls of town portal. You have to use waypoints. -Potion healing is drastically changed. -You can’t actually use your weapon when you feel like it. As in, the game doesn’t allow you to swing your weapon if you feel like it with certain classes. -I don’t think the graphics are bad, but they don’t fit the atmosphere. Whereas the first one was dark and gritty, this one seems cartoonish. -The writing is uninspired and has that “oh look at me I’m so epic” quality that I’ve noticed is becoming increasingly common in Blizzard games

Overrall, the game just feels watered down and simplified. Some people disagree with me and are having the time of their lives. All I know is that I wasn’t having fun even after a few hours of playing.

The reviewer points out a problem I’ve always had with video game sequel reviews, and it’s that so many reviewers won’t compare a game to its predecessors, and if they do, generally seem to be very forgiving of the latest entry. It’s gotten to the point I almost trust user reviews more than critic reviews, and Diablo III is a perfect example of this trend.

I have read over 10+ critic reviews online, and it’s shocking to me how little of them haven’t criticized the use of a cash-shop auction house, which nearly makes me never want to touch Diablo III. Many have mentioned the server problems, but are basically making it out to be a footnote, and just making fun of people who have been upset by it. Those who mention that the game requires an online connection, and provides no offline single-player, are basically putting this distinction at the end of their articles, and are saying (paraphrasing), “you can’t play this game offline, but don’t worry about that“. Oh, I haven’t even seen one mention of Blizzard leaving out a LAN option, because you know, people don’t like to play games with others in a live setting anymore.

The Diablo series has never been known for its long, drawn out storylines, but people are beating this game in one sitting. Granted, they are 5-7 hour sittings, but for a game which had a 12 year long development cycle, I would expect more.

As I stated above, I haven’t played the retail version of Diablo III, and this is just my commentary of what I’ve seen from the opinions of others. However, from all the relevant problems being issued by players, which in turn look to be completely ignored by “experts” and “critics”, the whole situation just feels wrong. It leads me to believe that so many of these video game critics have lost sight of what it means to just be a gamer, and aren’t required to spend most of their own money on copies of a game.

While I haven’t had an emotional reaction to the Diablo III fiasco, as I’m 28 and feel like I’m a bit too old to have enraged reactions to a piece of electronic equipment, I can understand and sympathise with the plight of the players. To simply ignore all of the problems, make fun of them, and then either leave them out of a review or make them seem irrelevant is just irresponsible.

The Great Diablo III Error 37 & Review Debate – Who’s Right & Who’s Wrong?
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  • JakeFreedom

    Bravo. Someone should buy you a beer, man. Sincerely.

    It does seem like there is a detachment these days between gamers and critics. Once upon a time critics were just gamers, themselves (many still are). They used to tell it like it is with little to no agenda. Recently, however, so many game sites are concerned with advertising dollars, getting in good with developers, etc., they are far too quick to dismiss any negative commentary as knee jerk reaction.

    The criticism of Diablo III is anything but universal knee jerk reaction. Yes, MUCH of it is due to some people flying off the handle because of the server issues, but not all criticisms are for that reason. *I mean, it’s not like people had to wait 12 years for it or anything; then learn to stomach a system most didn’t want (DRM), only to have that very system screw up their gaming experience (many of whom are still having issues).

    * – sarcasm noted

    Diablo III is far from a terrible game — it’s just not the great title most were hoping for after more than a decade of waiting. You wouldn’t know that from reading gaming site reviews, as you pointed out, but it is true. These days even bad games rarely dip below 7/10 if the developer publishing it has any sort of clout. ActiBlizz has some of the deepest pockets in the industry, and you get the feeling gaming sites don’t want to risk their connection within those companies by blasting a game, or even fairly critiquing it evenly.

  • Rawketz

    “A playthrough conquered in 3 hours”
    Stopped reading there. If you’re going to start with severely inaccurate information, I don’t know why you expect anyone to take you seriously.

  • Marakesh

    The thing is I find games like Skyrim and the Mass Effect series to be critic hits and I do not understand that. They have some gee wiz stuff and then you get bored of playing it quickly. I am blown away with D3 so far. I have 12 hours of gameplay so far due to bad work schedule and things coming up and I’m in act 3. If you want to treat the normal mode like its just one of 4 difficulties and ignore everything on the way then its a bit unfair to say the game can be beat in 12 hours.

    The storyline continues to be top notch. I would actually read a fantasy book about D2 and D3 (so far). People talk about the story as a posative in Bethesda and especially Bioware games but they’re just silly melodramas. Dragon Age was a little better at the start, but then went to junk. They do have some nice elements Blizz obviously stole for D3 like the NPC chatter.

    Have the people claiming D3 has been dumbed down beaten the game in Inferno mode yet? How many other games out there are as hard that aren’t player vs player?

    • Marakesh

      Well, the story fizzled so D3 is alot more like DA I in that it started out with a lot of potential and went nowhere.

      Still have a great desire to play it though and I’m in Nightmare now. THAT is a the biggest difference between D3 and the Skyrims and ME3s. If critics give those games 9/10 what room is left to give D3 a good, but non perfect score? I do agree with your overall premise I just think you needed to actually have played and understood the game you were applying it to.

    • http://www.sidequesting.com Mike Bachmann

      Exactly. If you consider playing through normal mode as “beating” the game, then you obviously don’t understand the lasting appeal of Diablo, and that’s fine! But the D3 is almost exactly like D2 in terms of structure. My first play through was 13 hours, watching every cutscene, entering every dungeon.

  • Colin

    3 hours – 7 hours gameplay?
    Are these people playing the game, or just simply running straight through the whole game and skipping all the story?

    I’ve finished the “Normal” story this morning after about 23 – 30 hours of gameplay. It was an amazing experience for me, and I was a huge fan of Diablo 2. Heck, I even took off 3 days off work just to play it, and I wasn’t a bit disappointed.

    Now, I still want to finish (or try to finish) the game 3 more times, to best the inferno difficulty. Further to that, I still want to play the game as the other 4 characters, also trying to complete Inferno.
    Now for me, that adds up to 100′s of hours.

    Regarding the “No choice” when leveling, this is partly false.
    By default, all stats are automatically assigned. But you can disable this in the game menu, where you can then assign your own stat points yourself, where you want.

    Regarding the skills, I agree it is different from what we were used to, but I think Blizzard did a good job there.

    One last thing I’d like to comment on is the the real money auction house. I don’t know why people are hating on this, but I think its brilliant.
    One point I’d like to make sure that everyone is aware of, is that all items being sold are items that other people have picked up, and have decided to put it up for auction. Ie. This is not Blizzard selling items.

    I did come across that pesty Error 37 a few times, but it wasn’t a game stopper. I simply retried until I got past it.

    The “online only” part did upset me a bit, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from buying an awesome game.

  • BG

    Good article.
    I can’t trust reviews anymore I noticed as well.
    Thankfully F2P games are becoming the trend, and open betas are being commonplace as well.
    As long as I can test the game myself I won’t have to rely on possibly biased reviews.
    IGN has always been bad, but recently more and more review sights seem off.
    When a game doesn’t work singleplayer on launch day it’s unacceptable.
    When they want 60 dollars for a game, but have the audacity to include a F2P buy items model, it’s unacceptable.
    I’ll be looking to torchlight 2 for my dungeon crawling co-op adventure.

  • BG

    @Colin
    How do you know Blizzard won’t be selling their own created items?
    Whose gonna check on that? The commission of fair trade?
    The truth is they can easily create accounts with false history and supply them with plenty of items.
    Not to mention they get a 30% cut of every auction transaction. That’s 15% both ways from the seller and the buyer.

    And they want $60.00??? Well they aren’t getting my money.

  • Grim

    Great article.

    Spot on the article from www.sidequesting.com.

    After all those shit thrown at Battlefield 3 for having terrible server problems at launch, they have the nerve to say that say that Diablo 3′s own server problem is irrelevant? Being selective which game should or shouldn’t be seen in a negative light is just poor journalism.

    I may not a big fan of Diablo series (I was disappointed with the fact Diablo was just a large red dog at the end of D2) but I’m thoroughly against this online DRM. Its troublesome and opens for commercial abuse in the future.

    PC gamers hated Ubisoft’s own online DRM but turned a blind eye when Blizzard did the same?

    • http://www.sidequesting.com Mike Bachmann

      Because I think this needs to be heard, I’ll repost my reply, originally posted on Sidequesting.com:

      “Here’s the thing about Diablo 3 that separates it from certain Ubisoft games: It’s not really DRM. Jay Wilson has said on multiple occasions that Diablo 3 is a cooperative game, not single player. While that doesn’t mean you can’t play the game single player, it does mean that it was designed around creating the best multiplayer experience possible. There is a big difference between requiring an always on internet connection to keep people from stealing Assassin’s Creed 2 and requiring and always on internet connection to enhance the core experience. We could have a whole discussion about why Ubisoft was wrong.

      That being said, Diablo 3′s always on connection is a topic that’s been beaten into the ground since it was announced last year and pretty much everyone interested in the game has chosen their side. Agree or disagree, the fact remains that Diablo 3 is a game that requires an internet connection. I plan on reviewing it as such and have no interest in debating DRM when there are much more important gameplay aspects to talk about. If you disagree with the always on connection, you’ve already made up your mind and probably wont be reading my review anyway.

      As for the apparent mixed signals the site is sending about day one server issues in game reviews, all I can do is point you to the top of the page where it says “Editorial” and leave it at that. The article expressed my own personal beliefs. Do I think that Blizzard should have been more prepared, especially given the popularity of Diablo 3 and their experience with World of Warcraft? Probably. But I don’t see the point in talking about isses a week later that most of the people reading the review will probably never experience. The point is to tell the reader whether or not a game is worth playing, not to crucify a developer for past mistakes. Should those issues be rampant for a week or two weeks then yes, that’s probably something to talk about. For the most part, however, they’ve cleared up. No harm done.

      As for those Metacritic scores, I think we can all agree that you can’t rate a game 0/10 and say “It’s pretty good” in the same breath.”

      • Someone

        Actually, you can give it a 0/10 and say it’s good in the same breath. Watch me:

        “This game is really really good when I could play it, but I can’t play it now because Error 37.”

  • DJC

    “Let me preface this article by stating, I haven’t played Diablo III”

    So tell me what the f*$& are you doing writing any kind of review of a game you haven’t played? You are taking statements from random people off of forums complaining about errors when you don’t even know if there is any credence to them at all. I have played D3 since release (started at 8pm EST on 5/15) and I have yet to have a connection issue.

  • DJC

    I’m sorry but I left a couple things out of my post. 1) How dare you criticize the critics reviews of a game that they have played and you have not. Just doesn’t make sense in any way. Read the review and decide if you want to play the game, but don’t read the review of a game you haven’t played and then try to pick apart the reviews. You just sound like an idiot who has a problem with blizzard or the diablo franchise in general.
    2) This statment again speaks to your utter ignorace regarding a game you haven’t played at all and chose to write a review on:
    “The Diablo series has never been known for its long, drawn out storylines, but people are beating this game in one sitting. Granted, they are 3-7 hour sittings, but for a game which had a 12 year long development cycle, I would expect more”

    Seriously John you should be hiding your head in the sand after writing this mess. Go play the game and get back to us with your thoughts. Or don’t play the game and write about something you actually know a few things about.

  • DJC

    @BG

    There are two auction houses set up in the game. One for gold and one for real money. You do not have to use the real money auction house in any way.

    • http://www.sidequesting.com Mike Bachmann

      Also, the real money auction house has yet to launch, which makes it hard to include in a review.

  • http://activecomputing.ca Computer Repair in Calgary

    Holy shit that first video was amazing!!

  • http://www.sidequesting.com Mike Bachmann

    You might be interested to actually read my review, which compares Diablo 3 to its predecessor extensively.

    http://www.sidequesting.com/video-game-review/diablo-iii-review-imperfectly-executed/

    Currently, I’ve logged over 100 hours. Look at other games in the genre, say Titan Quest for example. Titan Quest’s single player takes 20-30 hours to complete (based on what I read on various forums), but I could only stomach about 10 hours due to all the fluff that game jams down your throat. Torchlight takes roughly 20 hours as well but the broken equipment upgrade system took all the excitement out of loot. Only put about 12 hours into that game.

    Point is, even if you spend 7 hours on a playthrough, which is a rushed playthrough to be sure, I’d take a polished 7 hours over an unpolished 20 hours any day. That’s not to mention the fact that games like Diablo are structured to be played multiple times with the same character. If that doesn’t sound appealing, they’re probably not the games for you.

    Anyway, I wish I had seen this article sooner when people were still talking about this, but it’s just not important anymore. That’s why I don’t see the point of talking about the day one downtime: It doesn’t matter.

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls3xttNfTK1qmije2o1_500.jpg

    • Anne-Lise Pasch

      Except the EU has had Error37 for the last 4 or 5 hours. Yay for patch day.

    • Anne-Lise Pasch

      Hence pages of abuse on the forums:

      http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/4211047233?page=31

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